Westside Barbell is one of the most famous gyms in the world.
It’s founder, Louie Simmons, is a legend in American Powerlifting and strength training worldwide. In particular, he is known for adopting Chinese and Soviet training methodologies and from them deriving his own form of conjugate system known as the ‘Westside Method.’ Vice news, sent a crew over to Westside to take a look at the gym and interview Louie and some of the lifters in his cohort.
In an interview with Louie, the Vice reporter asked how he got into strength training. Louie’s answer is one that many lifters could probably relate to:
“I just wanted to be strong and I had low self-esteem probably. I didn’t have much growing up and I got in a lot of fights growing up. Weights turned me around it gave me self confidence.”
Louie was also asked why he opted to host his gym in Ohio, instead of somewhere with a larger population and fitness culture like California. Louie replied:
“People go to the Shaolin temple, the Shaolin temple don’t go to them.”
Westside Manager Tom Barry gave fascinating insight into Louie’s mind:
“The man lives in his own world, and he just rejects every-thing outside of it. Like why does it matter- whats your name? he doesn’t care. If you lift numbers- he cares about that. That’s more important.”
Louie says that his ‘gym’ is really a ‘club.’ You have to be invited to Westside, and the qualifications are simple but uncommon.
“You gotta have the body. And you have to be able to do the mental training. Every day you gotta do this freaking thing over and over and it gets harder and harder, you gotta have enough nuts to go until you got nothing left. It’s all mental.”
Louie also said that the gym is his whole life, and the record board is a representation of everything he cares about.
“That board is my life, that’s all my friends, all my memories, all the accomplishments that I’ve ever done, or the people in here. And that’s all I care about.”
One of Louie’s lifters also addressed the persistent criticism of steroid use at Westside.
“Fucking come see us. If it’s a drug thing, cool man, ill tell you what I fucking take, you can take it and see if you can do what we can do.”